You plan meals, grab drinks, and play sports without giving much thought to your teeth. But you might not realize how food, beverages, and activities can wreck the health of your pearly whites. Twenty-five percent of U.S. adults over age 65 have lost all their teeth - here's how you can protect your own.
Sugar and Teeth
Sugar is the No. 1 enemy of your teeth, and the longer it stays in your mouth, the worse it is. Sugar is consumed by acid-producing bacteria in your mouth. The acids eat away at tooth enamel. Avoid foods like jelly candies, which stick in your teeth longer than other foods and bathe them in sugar. Dried fruit such as raisins are no better. Reach for fresh fruit instead.
Beverages and Teeth
Soda is just plain bad for teeth, sugar-free or not. "You're bathing teeth in an acid environment," says Robert Sorin, DDS, clinical instructor in the department of dentistry and oral surgery at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Club soda is harmful, too, because of its acidity, and so are juices with added sugar.
Alcohol, even just a glass of wine, is also acidic and can erode the teeth. In addition, alcohol dries out your mouth, reducing saliva production. "Saliva bathes the teeth and helps remove plaque and bacterial accumulations from the teeth's surface. Less plaque equals less risk for bacterial acids to cause decay," Sorin says. Rinse your mouth with water between drinks.